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Murph: Are the 2021 Giants above criticism?

© Ray Acevedo | 2021 Sep 23

One up. Nine to play. 

I think we can all agree that this 99-win season by Gabe Kapler’s Giants has been astounding/historic/legendary.

But . . . is it above criticism?

That was the question that arrived at the Jock Blog’s doorstep this morning when I read a couple of texts upset at how Kapler deployed the bullpen in the 10-inning loss on Thursday at Petco. And how Kapler did not have Brandon Belt bunt in the top of the 10th. And how Kapler did not walk the bases loaded to set up a force play in the bottom of the 10th.

Now, this could have just been a couple of rogue texts from a group we’ll call the “Never Happys”, in a tribute to Tobias from ‘Arrested Development’, whose fear of disrobing put him in a syndrome called the ‘Never Nudes’. 

After all, you can please some of the 99-win Giants fans some of the time, but you can’t please all of the 99-win Giants fans, all of the time.

For real, though: Is it even appropriate to criticize any shred of this jaw-dropping campaign? 

It comes down to how you want your sports: Are you a ‘Championship, or Death’ person? 

Or do you appreciate a long, rollicking summer full of one stunner after another, as I was just saying to my good friend ‘Late Night’ LaMonte Wade Jr?

I am in the latter camp.

Mind, I am not conceding anything. And nobody wants to see the Giants beat the Dodgers in October more than yours truly. I am still seeing a therapist after drowning in waves of blue at the corner of Third and King on the Saturday night, Sept. 4 Labor Day weekend loss. I could have saved hundreds of dollars in therapy had I just chosen to go to the Sunday, Sept. 5 Labor Day weekend thrashing of Walker Buehler the next night, but that’s water under the therapist bridge.

This Giants team has been so perspective-altering, I find it hard to rip these guys for anything at this point. 

Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris’ ability to patch hole after hole with find after find has been nothing short of brain-fueled alchemy. (Cue Paulie Mac’s magic wand sounder.) Gabe Kapler’s army of coaches, once the object of ridicule for their anonymity and sheer numbers, have turned nearly every Giants player into a full-fledged believer, particularly the veteran hitters Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt — who were once seen as Bobby Evans contract albatrosses, and are now celebrated as championship-toting believers who are leading the way with career years.

Listen to me: This team will likely set the San Francisco record for wins.

No Mays. No McCovey. No Marichal. No Will the Thrill. No Bonds. No Lincecum, Bumgarner or Cain.

All the 2021 Giants need do is go 5-4 down the stretch to win 104 — something no team has done in SF history. If they go 6-3 down the stretch, they win 105 — matching the 1905 World Series champion New York Giants for second best since 1883. If they go 7-2 down the stretch, they win 106 — matching the all-time mark set by the 1904 New York Giants, who did not win the World Series that year because there was no World Series played. 

Someone go wake up the gosh darn ghosts of Christy Mathewson and John McGraw — Logan Webb and Gabe Kapler would like to meet them in the weight room for a workout, a protein shake and a great historical baseball chat.

This is mind-blowing stuff. 

Would I have bunted Brandon Belt in the top of the 10th yesterday? Probably. Would I have objected to walking the bases loaded in the bottom of the the 10th? I would not have objected at all.

Am I going to rage about it? No. Am I going to muster anything other than blown-away admiration for what Kapler and the Giants have done? No. 

If the Giants don’t win the World Series this year, will I be ticked off? Believe it or not, they don’t have to win the World Series this year for my baseball jones to be sated.

That’s how good these guys are. I think they have earned the right to be bulletproof. I think Farhan Zaidi has proven that the Giants are probably going to be good every year he runs the team. The style may be different, and I may lament the industry-wide trend towards the three true outcomes, but that’s a different argument. 

The argument about the 2021 Giants is over. They are to be treasured in our minds for a long, long time.


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